Friday, February 6, 2015

Preparing for the new Common Core Test

This is a post about the not-so-glamorous-but-necessary part of teachers job that is the task of preparing students for standardized testing.  This is also part I of a series of posts that I intend to write about the work we are doing in our district to prepare for our new standardized test.   In California, this means the SBAC test (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), which replaces the STAR test.

Many schools in California took the SBAC field test last school year, but for both of the high schools that I work with this will be the first time that we are taking the test.  Naturally there is a certain amount of anxiety, as this is the first time that students will be taking a math test entirely online.

So the big question is how do you prepare for such a test?  Teachers have spent countless hours during the past couple of years to adjust course maps, curriculum, and teaching strategies in our transition to the Common Core. But what about the big test?  How ready are we for the Common Core test?

After some conversation, we've identified a few focus areas:

-Content: There are a some content standards that our books don't cover
-Depth of knowledge: Students haven't necessarily worked on performance tasks in math class
-Technology.: This is the big one.  Students need to practice with the SBAC tools, specifically with the SBAC calculator and entering answers using the SBAC equation editor.  Another big item is navigating between different tabs or windows to access all needed information.

Identifying the areas above has helped in developing a plan to address the focus areas and get ready for the SBAC test. No doubt we will make sure that 11th graders have taken the Interim Block Assessments that SBAC has released.  Other than this a bulk of the test prep work will involve doing in class practice activities and homework assignments that involve students showing their work and explaining their thinking on the computer.  In this series of blogposts I will share some of the specific activities that we are using, all of which are housed in Google Drive.  Hope you will find them useful!  And if there is a similar resource out there that I have missed, please feel free to share.

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